Over My Head

I’ve been waiting to post this for a long time; it was inspired by this Girl on the Net post.  When I saw that the Wicked Wednesday prompt was “Follow Your Heart,” I thought: it’s time.  It’s non-fiction and not very wicked, but I can’t think of a more appropriate prompt for this piece.

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At the time I met Banger*, I was deep into lesbian territory.  I hadn’t been physically intimate with a man for four years and wasn’t planning on it anytime soon; however, when I opened my door and saw him standing there one cold February afternoon, I felt my heart leap in my chest.  He was my type: Tall, bespectacled, bookish.  At least – he was the type I’d had before I stopped dating men.  I panicked and reacted to how handsome I thought he was by being overly cheerful and energetic.  I didn’t really know what to do with my sudden and strange urges; it had been so long since I’d had them.

Over the next year, I developed a massive crush on him, but never said anything; he was always dating someone, and I was supposed to be gay.  We became close friends and confidants; we worked together, shared an office, and lived in the same building, so I saw him all the time.  We’d go out for kimchi stew or barbecue together and chat; a couple of times we went to a noraebang (private room karaoke), just the two of us, drunk on rice wine, and sang songs late into the night.  He made me giggle.  Not laugh – giggle.  The kind of laughter you share with someone when you have inside jokes or find something hilarious that no one else would laugh at.  We could be silly together and really honest with each other because we weren’t trying to get into each other’s pants.  It was brilliant.  Spending time with him was so easy – a breath of fresh air.

He went home for vacation that summer, and I found myself acutely missing his company.  I could feel a kind of dull ache inside of me at his absence.  When I went home for Christmas, he kept in contact with me the whole time I was gone.  The night I got back, there was already a message on my phone welcoming me back to Korea and asking me to dinner.  We spent the next three nights on his bed, watching 90s movies and drinking boozy hot cocoa.  It felt like those times in uni where you’re trying to be physically close to a crush without admitting you like like each other, because what if the other person doesn’t feel the same?  The second night, I asked if I could put my head on his shoulder.  I couldn’t even remember the last time I had cuddled with someone, and it ignited something in my body that I was wholly unprepared for.  My insides exploded with an unstoppable force, and my panties were literally soaked by the time I got back to my apartment.  The next night, as I was stroking his arm, my brain stopped working and my body took over; I grabbed his face and kissed him, and it felt like everything fell into place in that one moment.  My lust was a champagne bottle uncorked.

I went away for a couple of days after that; when I came back, we spent hours making out and exploring each other’s bodies before falling asleep.  At first morning’s light, I told him that I desperately wanted him inside of me.  I hadn’t had penetrative sex with a man for five years at this point; I thought I would need to take it a bit slow or that it might even hurt, but because I was so highly aroused, it felt so. fucking. good.  Like eating an ice cream cone on a scorching summer day.  Like the first time you try ecstasy and you find yourself floating in joyous spacetime.  Like the first day of spring after a long, hard winter.

He called me; he asked me to spend time with him; he held my hand in public, and that’s when I think I fell.  I moved to another city shortly after we first hooked up; it was hard going from seeing him every day to seeing him twice a month, especially now that we were being intimate.  I found myself feeling lost in the behemoth of all these feelings I hadn’t felt in years – overwhelming waves of love and desire.  I had a real libido for the first time in forever.  I was drowning in hormones, and I didn’t know how to get to shore.  I felt crazy.  Suddenly I was being cautious with every word I said to him, scared that if I said or did the wrong thing, all of my joy would vanish.  He would disappear like a magician into the void of a magic box.  I tried to stop myself from feeling, tried to put tape over a waterfall, but I had already contracted emotional ebola and I was bleeding out.

Over the next couple of months, we had the most incredible sex I’d had in a decade, and I experienced orgasms I couldn’t even believe were real.  We fucked everywhere in my apartment, cuddled next to each other on the couch to watch videos, and only came up for air to go out to eat and build up our energy reserves so we could make love again.  If oxytocin is sex vodou, he was a houngan and I was ready to dance with snakes.  He brought me back from the dead.

My friends were baffled.  They said:

“I’ve never seen you this happy.”

“I’ve never seen you this way!”

“You’re glowing!”

“I’m surprised at how… mushy you’re being about this.”

“I never expected to hear you being so sentimental.”

“I’m impressed – not because it’s a guy, but because you like him.”

“It’s kind of nice to hear you say that you feel something again.”

And suddenly, I wanted to know what we were.  Not where it was going – I knew he was moving back to England in the summer – but I wanted to know that he had romantic feelings for me like I did for him.  That I wasn’t alone. That I wasn’t crazy.  I told him that I had real feelings for him and that it was freaking me out.  He said he hadn’t had romantic feelings for anyone in years and didn’t know if he could.  I, meanwhile, was feeling ALL THE FEELINGS ALL THE TIME, and it was so completely isolating.  I tried meditation, breathing, yoga, sleeping pills, processing with friends.  Nothing could take away the anxiety of loving someone when I didn’t know how he felt about me.  My pain started to become stronger than my joy, but I held on because the high was so powerful.

When I told him that I felt like I’d changed from someone he actually cared about to someone he was just sleeping with, his response was, “Yeah, I guess that’s just part of the changing nature of relationships, you know?”  When I asked if I could say that we were dating, he responded, “I don’t know.  I mean, you can say whatever you want, but I don’t know.”  When I said that that had hurt me, he said he was sorry I felt hurt.

We kept having these amazing weekends together, but I was in pain all the time.  It’s hard work loving someone who doesn’t love you in the same way; it takes everything from you.  Confidence, dignity, pride, joy, sanity.  Laughter.  Self-worth.  I knew that he cared about me a great deal; he wasn’t good at expressing that with words, but he showed it by doing things like serenading me with a song sacred to my heart that he learned just to play for me, or by choosing to spend his last weekends in Korea with me.  But I was in a different place.  I understood for the first time why people want to give up everything to be with someone.  Why they’ll move half a world away.  I wanted so much to spend my life loving him despite knowing deep down that we probably wouldn’t be compatible in the long run, and that was unnerving.  He told me shortly before he left that he loved me – and I truly believe he did – but continued to introduce me as his friend, which was confusing at best and devastating at worst.

The day before he left, he asked me: “What now?”  I don’t know, I said.  I wanted to say that I wanted to be in a long-distance relationship with him while continuing to date other people here, but the idea of him saying no to that was too crushing to consider.  So I just said that we’d keep in touch, keep loving each other, and hopefully one day down the road we’d meet again and create a second chapter in our story.

We tried to be friends after that, which in hindsight seems like the biggest mistake ever.  His responses to me became less frequent and shorter; we still talked, but it wasn’t the same.  I finally told him right before Christmas that I was deeply in love with him and that it was too painful to try to be his friend.  That I needed a break.  We talked for a long time and hashed things out – then emailed a week later and talked for hours again and hashed more things out – and in the end, he said he was still attracted to me, but didn’t know if that translated into romantic feelings.  That he just assumed I was over him.  That it would be logical to have romantic feelings for me, but feelings aren’t logical.  That he didn’t know if he could be emotionally supportive of me.  I got angry about it all and my anger hurt him; he thought I was diminishing the ways he cared for me just because his feelings weren’t as intense as mine.  He loved me – just not in the way I wanted to be loved.  We left the conversation on a positive note, and agreed that the friendship we’d had before was worth working on.

It took a long time and dating other people (and a thorough reading of More Than Two) to wade through the layers of love and loss I felt… but I made it to the other side, and when I did, I came out stronger.  Not that defensive kind of stronger where you swear you’ll never let anyone in again, which is where I was before I met him, but the kind of stronger where you learn how to open your heart and love completely, accept and really feel your feelings, and vow to work on knowing what you want and how to communicate that.  Where you breathe deeply and let your walls crumble to the ground around you in tiny pieces.  Being that vulnerable and crawling through the darkness that came after were both transformative experiences.

I started writing this blog while I was seeing him because I wanted him to be proud of me for doing something creative; it has since turned into something I’m proud of myself for doing.  I’m grateful for that.  We’re still friends, and the friendship feels easier now.  My heart feels so much lighter when I talk to him.  He lives with someone he’s dating now; that was hard to cope with at first, but a month or so ago I suddenly found myself feeling genuinely and deeply happy for him out of the blue.  We should all get to love in life and be loved in return – even the people who have hurt us.

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

 

*Not his real name, obvs.  This is what a few of my friends started calling him after I initially and hesitantly told them I was “bangin’ a dude.”

 

Patience

This crazy thing is happening right now, and it’s pretty wonderful: I’m not having sex.

I’ll let that sink in.

I started unexpectedly seeing someone new a few weeks ago; he’s an acquaintance whom I’ve known for years, but have never particularly felt attracted to.  We were sitting in a bar and chatting one night; I mentioned that I was cold, and he took my hands to warm them.  That felt pretty nice, so I just left my hands in his.   A bit later, when I was telling him how lovely that felt, he kissed me out of the blue – which was shocking, as I’ve always considered this guy to be a little shy and socially awkward.  The kissing was pretty nice, too, so I asked him on a date… and then I asked him to spend the night.

He told me that he was happy to stay there, but he didn’t want to compromise his morals.  See – this guy is religious.  Not in a church-on-Christmas kind of way, but in a bible-study-small-town-Baptist-church kind of way.  I’m barely even spiritual, so… it’s interesting.  Making out with him in my bed and not being able to touch his dick was a glorious kind of torture; I was soaking wet all through the night and really relished that heightened state of arousal that I’m so used to curing with release.  This time, it just built and built and built, and I could feel the sexual energy coursing through my body for hours.

That was two weeks ago.

This guy has spent the night at my house three times, and I haven’t seen him naked, and… it’s been kind of amazing.  He asked me to slow dance in my living room and to walk around to look at Christmas lights.  He takes his hat off when he walks in my door.  He went a half mile out of his way a few days ago so he could walk me home, and he kissed me at midnight on New Year’s Eve (the first time in over ten years I’ve been with a date on NYE).  He’s an old-fashioned romantic and I am LOVING THE FUCK OUT OF IT.

We’re not compatible for a million reasons (God is not a fan of my libido, for one), and I’m leaving the country in six weeks – but for right now, being wanted for my company rather than my cunt feels healing, and being with someone who loves slow dancing is even better.

Winter Wonderland

Alex pushed her front door open, the cold air blowing porch snow in around her ankles.  She banged her Docs against the step to knock the packed snow out of her boots and hurried inside; Jen followed close behind her, wrapping her arms around her lover’s waist.  They were flushed from one too many cocktails, from stumbling home over half-shoveled sidewalks, from the conversation they’d had on the way.

It was Jen who’d seen her first.  Who had watched her, gliding like an angel toward a pool table, the yellow bar lights swimming around her closely-cropped honey hair adding to the effect.  She stared at the woman’s shoulders, pulled back in confidence – her smile, gleaming and glorious – the ease with which she pushed the cue stick through her hooked index finger as she bent over the green felt, a bit of cleavage poking out of a tight white button-down shirt.  After a minute of trying to get Jen’s attention and being unsuccessful, Alex had followed her gaze over to the beautiful stranger, now shaking hands with the loser of the game.  She leaned into Jen’s ear and whispered, “She’s a looker, huh?”  Jen, still in her reverie, just replied with an “Mmm.”  Their stare lingered a minute longer before Alex said, “Babe? She’s fine as hell, but now we’re just being creepy.”  That was enough to get Jen to laugh and break the spell.  Jen turned toward Alex, cupped her face, and kissed her full on the lips, trailing a hand down between Alex’s breasts.  “Let’s go home,” she said.

On the walk home, past lit-up duplexes and technically-illegal-but-still-used parking chairs, Jen dropped the question into the snowy silence around them: “So hey, babe.  Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a threesome?  I mean… just wondered, you know?” Alex smiled.  “You mean with someone like the woman you were just stalking?” she asked.  “Well – yeah,” replied Jen.  “I mean, she was hot, right?  What would you think about bringing someone else in just for a night?  Just to see what it was like?”  “I think that I’d like to think about it,” replied Alex.  “For now, let’s just focus on getting home!”  The wind swirled and howled around them, flinging flurries this way and that.  They quickened their pace.

Once they were in, coats, hats, mittens, and scarves lying on a pile on the couch, Alex turned on her electric fireplace; they put a few blankets and pillows on the floor and lay down in front of it, snuggling close together to get warm.  After a couple of minutes of staring into the electric blaze, Alex brought up their prior conversation.  “So – if we were to have this hypothetical threesome, what would you want it to look like?”  Jen felt her pulse quicken and her cunt warm.  She turned to look at Alex.  “You mean, what would I want to happen?”  “Yeah,” replied Al.  “What would you want to do with her?  With me?  Would you want to watch, or be watched?  How involved would you want her to be?”

“Hypothetically?” Jen asked.  Alex nodded.  “I’d want you to direct the scene.  I’d want to start out with the two of you taking my clothes off, then you telling her what you want to see.”  “And what do I want to see?” Alex asked with a mischievous grin.  “You want to see her warm me up.  You want to see her lap at my nipples until I’m begging to have the rest of my body touched.  You want to see her caress my inner thighs, teasing me until there’s a stream of fluid running down my pussy because I’m so turned on.  You want to see her graze my outer labia, making my heart pound, and then lick my clit just once so I’m trembling all over – and then you kiss her so you can taste me on her tongue.”   

“Like this?” Alex asked, pulling Jen’s leggings and boy shorts down, spreading her legs just enough, and lapping once over the inside of Jen’s labia and up over her clit before kissing her.  She loved the lemondrop taste of Jen’s cunt.  Jen closed her eyes and breathed shallow breaths, letting her body take over.  She continued talking as Alex continued to taste her: “You lick me slowly and steadily until I come in your mouth, and then you tell her that I’m hers to fuck; she leaves on a tank top, her nipples hard underneath it, and puts on a leather-harnessed strap-on.  She puts a pillow under my ass and works her cock inside of me, rhythmically pumping; while she’s doing that, you hover over me, kissing her.  Long kisses.  I struggle to crane my neck up enough to run my tongue along you, but you… won…” Jen gasped, groaned, bucked her hips up to Alex’s waiting mouth, and finished – “’t let me.”  She collapsed, hoarse moans escaping her.  “I can feel the heat of your cunt on my face; I can’t reach it with my mouth, so I slide one finger inside, then two.  I run them along my lips, making them sticky with your juices, and suck them clean.  You stand up while I’m shuddering from being fucked and walk around to the back of her, sliding one hand up the front of her shirt to gently pinch her nipple and massage her vulva with the other hand until she’s too close to coming to keep fucking me.”

“Then what?” Alex asked, now sliding her fingers in and out of Jen’s cunt, curving her hand so that her heel would rub against Jen’s clit.  “I told you -” said Jen, a dreamy smile on her face – “you’re directing the scene.”  Alex leaned in and kissed her before whispering, “But you’re the one with the imagination.  Babe, you have the sexiest brain of any girl I know.”  “Thanks, love,” she replied, pulling in Alex for another kiss.  “Let’s talk more realistically about this when we’re sober; for now, I just want to feel you all over me.” “Done,” said Al, pressing her whole weight into Jen, hot now under the blazing light of the fire.

 

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

 

Inspired by the following lyrics from “Winter Wonderland” (which I know isn’t technically a carol, but it popped into my head!):

Later on, we’ll conspire as we dream by the fire

To face unafraid the plans that we made,

Walking in a winter wonderland

Friends with Benefits

The first time I fucked a friend who I had zero romantic (or sexual, for that matter!) interest in was on New Year’s Eve, 2002.  I don’t remember why we left the party and went back to his place; likely we were outside smoking together and he said he needed to get something, so I opted to go with him.  We were both drunk, but not too drunk – just drunk enough to be warm and aroused. The night was still young – not quite midnight.
We went into his bedroom to get whatever it was he needed to get, and then… honestly, I don’t remember what happened next.  I remember we were kissing, and he was smiling, and then we were in the shower, and then we were wet and fucking on his bed.  I remember discarding a condom wrapper on the floor and laughing about how no one was missing us.  I remember how nice it felt to be intimate and sexual with someone without any expectation that it would happen again but also with care for each other’s feelings and pleasure because we’d known each other for years; how I didn’t worry that it would affect our friendship.  I didn’t think about where it would go or what I should do to make him happy, because I just wanted it to be what it was in the moment – an authentic connection, a mutually-enjoyed sensual experience.  Every time I saw him afterward, we would share a secret smile that said, “Thanks – that was lovely.”      
I’ve been thinking about this lately because I recently opened up a couple of friendships into sexual relationships, and both have been truly amazing.  I’ve always been strict about compartmentalizing my life; I suppose I still am in some ways.  But I refused to mix friendship and fucking because I was always afraid of hurt feelings.  Now that I’ve had my heart broken a couple of times in the past few years (and I mean really fucking broken), I’m not so afraid anymore.  I’m still here.  These broken hearts have improved my communication skills and opened my heart and body to new ways of experiencing love, friendship, and intimacy.  I definitely don’t want to fuck most of my friends, but when I do, it feels like a safe space in which to explore, to feel sexy, and to be cared for without so much on the line. 

Also, one of these new friends with benefits is a service sub, and how can you say no to that?        

Connection

My very, very favorite thing to do is go blues dancing.  More than driving on lost highways.  More than eating the toastiest bagel on a winter day.  More than sex.

Yes.  More than sex.

Dancing with a good partner is what makes me feel most alive and in my body.  It makes me feel graceful and beautiful and sassy and carefree and so incredibly intimately connected to my partner, even if (s)he is a total stranger.

I’d take a great dance over good sex and a good dance over mediocre sex any day.

I desperately wish people still went dancing on dates.
For lots more favorites, click the lips below!
Sinful Sunday
*Sorry for the crap quality of the photos; they’re stills from a video shot in a dark swing dancing venue.

“Loving another without losing ourselves is the central dilemma of intimacy”: Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel

Image result for mating in captivity While I was reading Sex at Dawn, it seemed like every person I mentioned this to asked: “Have you read Mating in Captivity?”  I can finally say yes, and I am better off for it.  You may know Esther Perel from her excellent and highly popular TED talk about maintaining desire in long-term relationships; it has almost six million views, and that’s just on the TED website.  Obviously a topic many people care deeply about, as it affects most of us at some point in our lives.  I’m not in a long-term relationship, so I wondered how this book would apply to me, if at all.  I was delightfully surprised that it had a lot to offer single people by way of general relationship advice. 

Perel begins the book with the idea that we want both stability and desire in our relationships, but that we often forego one for the other, thinking for some reason that we have to.  We don’t, she argues.  We can have both if we accept that these things don’t necessarily happen at the same time.  She stresses that erotic desire naturally waxes and wanes over the course of a relationship, and that it’s normal to go through periods of intense desire and lowered desire. 

Within relationships, a feeling of comfort and security can often lead to boredom; Perel says that in order to rekindle desire, you sometimes have to let go of your security because eroticism is fueled by uncertainty.  She says that in order to build erotic desire you need separation — that separation begets connection.  “Our ability to tolerate our separateness – and the insecurity it engenders,” she argues, “is a precondition for maintaining interest” (p. 36).  Sometimes we need distance in order to become closer; furthermore, maintaining a strong sense of self and personal identity — that “me” rather than “we” — allows our partners to see that they might not know everything about us, and there’s something enticing about that mystery.  Sexual desire is fueled by yearning and elusiveness, and constant contact / co-dependence smother that desire.  She points out near the end of the book that our partners are not ours — admitting that they are choosing to continue to be with us of their own free will is paramount to preserving our attraction to them.

Some of the takeaways that I got from reading this book are:

  • Contemporary intimacy has too many expectations placed on it; we expect our partners to be everything to us, but that’s impossible.
  • If you want to fall in love with your partner(s) again, watch them doing what they’re good at doing.  Try to see them through a stranger’s eyes.
  • We can’t expect spontaneity all the time, and making plans creates anticipation.  Being intentional in our sexual lives is healthy and builds connection.
  • Sexual power play and negotiation can ignite erotic desire; these things create tension and foster creativity.  Being playful is a great tool to help nurture our desire. 
  • We’re always told to be giving lovers, but being selfish in bed once in awhile isn’t a terrible thing.  If we can be selfish sometimes with our partners, it’s a sign that we trust them; moreover, it can be a huge turn-on to acknowledge your own sexual needs to your partners.
  • When we view a lowered desire or libido fluctuation as a “problem,” then we try to fix it with sexual band-aids instead of looking at underlying causes, and that doesn’t help anyone.  Perel puts it this way: our sexual and romantic connections are a “paradox to manage, not a problem to solve” (p. 81).  We need to take the time to reflect on these connections.
  • Our communication patterns stem from how our parents communicated with us when we were children, and our childhoods “shape our beliefs about ourselves and our expectations for others” (p. 107).  The way we balance between autonomy and dependence depends a lot on the way we were raised.  

Hands down, the biggest and most important takeaway I got from this book regards communication style.  Perel devotes an entire chapter to verbal vs. non-verbal communication; she points out that intimacy based on talking has a female bias, and that men are at a disadvantage at times because of this.  That society values and expects verbal communication, but men are socialized to do rather than say (and to be invulnerable), so when they don’t verbalize their feelings, their partners are often offended.  “The pressure is always on the non-talker to change,” says Perel (p. 42), not on the verbal communicator to adapt to a different style of communication.  She emphasizes that we need to honor ALL of the ways we connect — by doing things for each other, doing things together, touching each other, smiling at each other, spending time in the same room quietly — not just saying how we feel.  She goes even further to say that sometimes the sharing of intimate feelings can be seen as coercive if there is an expectation that the partner returns those sentiments verbally.  As someone who is a very verbal communicator and easily expresses myself with words, I have been guilty so many times of not seeing the value in my partner’s non-verbal communication.  This book has changed that and will shape the way I communicate with partners in the future.   

In addition to all these incredibly valuable points, Mating in Captivity includes chapters on parenthood, erotic fantasy, non-monogamy, finding sexual desire inside of a partnership in addition to finding it outside of a long-term partnership, and the Madonna-whore complex.  The book is filled with real-life examples to support her theories and case study conversations with clients she’s had as a relationship therapist.  This is a useful book even if you’re not in a long-term relationship; the central ideas that run through the text alone are worth reading it for.  It’s beautifully-written and both deeply thought and felt.  Also, it’s just really fun to read.  One-click it now! 

(P.S. Esther Perel is hot, y’all!)